I’m going to honor Vince McMahon’s half-assed booking of this Sunday’s PPV Payback with a half-assed Payback preview. Full disclosure, I haven’t really been watching RAW with my full attention lately. The recent addition of a Mr. McMahon vs HHH feud over perceived power in the WWE has had me ready to change the channel to the NHL playoffs at a moments notice. Couple this with a boring John Cena program and the absence of Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk on my television and I’m ready to just skip ahead to next month’s Money in the Bank PPV (which I have already purchased tickets for). This column is going to be a very brief overview of the matches with some half-hearted predictions thrown in as well. That’s all this PPV deserves.
Sheamus vs Damien Sandow
Their intelligence vs brute force segments over the past few weeks have been a pain to sit through. Despite this, these two are more than capable of putting on a very good match. Sheamus on a microphone immediately vaults him into my top 5 “Least favorite wrestlers” list. But when he’s not all “Aye fella, let’s foight” he’s actually a very compelling wrestler inside the ring. The guy looks like he’s been through a war after most matches. The odds of Sandow winning this match are lower than the Mets’ playoff chances, but hopefully they get at least 8 minutes on the pre-show.
Prediction: Sheamus via Brogue kick.
Divas Championship: Kaitlyn vs AJ Lee
This has potential to be something special. Each of these ladies are more than capable of putting on a good match and the Chicago crowd should help elevate it as well. I see Chicago being firmly in the corner of AJ Lee in this one, making it a unique atmosphere. It will be interesting to see how Kaitlyn responds if she receives an unfavorable reaction. You have to figure at some point in the near future AJ Lee will capture the Butterfly belt, not sure her time is this Sunday though. But I would not be surprised either way. These ladies are the class of the divas division (not hard to do) and I see them continuing their feud after this PPV.
Kaitlyn changed my mind, AJ Lee via Big E interference.
United States Championship: Dean Ambrose vs Kane
Besides Daniel Bryan, the Shield is the best thing going in the WWE right now. I won’t bore you with rehash, but Dean Ambrose is legit. While the Shield has no leader, it would appear that Ambrose has been singled out by WWE management as the member with the brightest future. A clean win by Ambrose here would do a great deal to restoring some credibility to a secondary belt that sorely needs it.
Prediction: Ambrose retains via front headlock drop.
Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett vs The Miz vs Curtis Axel
I feel like if Fandango hadn’t sustained his concussion, he would be the one emerging victorious here. I like the addition of Curtis Axel here. As a “Paul Heyman guy” he is the definition of a true wildcard. It would be nice if whomever wins this match would defend the title on a semi-consistent basis. Barrett has been champ for a while now, but he loses every non-title match he’s in. The Miz has been toiling in mid-card purgatory since Wrestlemania 27 and really…..really…..really…..hasn’t been bringing too much to the table to justify a strong push. Axel has me intrigued. At first I really didn’t like the way he was being booked. Cheap count out victories over HHH and John Cena are not an effective way to make this guy an impact player. However, I will NEVER underestimate the impact Paul Heyman can have on a guy. From Tommy Dreamer to RVD to the Big Show to CM Punk and Brock Lesnar, Heyman knows how to magnify his guys’ strengths and hide their weaknesses. Axel is currently undefeated with pinfall victories over Chris Jericho and Sin Cara. He’s undefeated against John Cena and is in the record books as 3-0 against HHH. A wrestler hasn’t completely dominated H this badly since the Ultimate Warrior at WM 12. In Paul Heyman we trust!
Prediction: Your NEW Intercontinental champion; Curtis Axel.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns vs Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan
Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan will suffer from mistrust and friction as a tag team while the two members of the Shield will operate as a cohesive unit. The Shield wins and will continue to dominate the tag team division. Daniel Bryan has been the shoot “Best in the World” for a long time now and his fan support is undeniable. He will hopefully move on to the title picture next, culminating with a match against John Cena in the MITB main event. If the Gods are just, Randy Orton will fail his third wellness test and be the latest WWE castoff to join TNA. I hope my faith in the Chicago crowd being smart enough to cheer for everybody in the match except for Orton is not misplaced.
Prediction: Shield retains after Randy Orton shenanigans.
Chris Jericho vs CM Punk
Anyone else kind of hoping CM Punk doesn’t show up? Or at least show up and not wrestle? Where would that rank among all-time trolls? We’ve been told week after week by Mr. McMahon, HHH, and Michael Cole about what an untrustworthy sleaze-ball Paul Heyman is. Well now the fans are supposed to just forget all of that and take him at his word that his client is showing up on Sunday? As the incorrigible Eagles running back Ricky Watters once asked “For who? For what?” CM Punk needs to come back to prove to Chris Jericho that he is the “Best in the World?” The proof exists. All one has to do is watch their previous two encounters at Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules. The proof is in the pudding.
Prediction: No contest or Chris Jericho via count out.
World Heavyweight Championship: Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio
It is going to be so nice to get “The Showoff” back in ring action. Hopefully this match against Del Rio is a one-off and he can move on against some more interesting competition. While it’s great to get him back, I sure will miss him life tweeting episodes of Monday Night RAW from home. Talk about dropping pipebombs.
Prediction: Ziggler retains somewhat cleanly with massive crowd support.
WWE Championship: John Cena vs Ryback (Three Stages of Hell Match)
Here’s my prediction. Someone wins the first fall and the opposite wrestler wins the second. John Cena then retains. It’s actually a shame. I really like Ryback. And even better, his reasoning for having a feud with John Cena actually makes sense. The Shield would continually target Ryback for beatdowns and John Cena would be nowhere to be found. Save for that one time John Cena prevented Zack Ryder from being dragged to hell. He’s been a really shitty friend to have.
Prediction: John Cena retains in a pretty good 40 minute match.
I’ve said it on numerous occasions, a great crowd can turn a mediocre event into something special. Chicago is THE preeminent crowd in the WWE universe. Look for a big night from the heels with the inevitable Cena victory. The event seems slightly predictable but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What I’m looking forward to most is next month when Money in the Bank emanates from Philadelphia.
Miscellaneous: I went and saw the movie “This is the End” this past week. I could not recommend a movie any higher. Laughed the entire time. Do yourselves a favor and check it out. Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill are at their finest with some hilarious cameos thrown in for good measure. Also, go Spurs!
Miscellaneous 2: She’s been found and in related news I’m moving to Buffalo.
Hit me up @TheRAWLibrarian on Twitter.